If you are interested in becoming a foster carer there has never been a better time to apply.
The National Fostering Group’s new fast track assessment process means that prospective foster carers can get approved more quickly than ever, but with the same rigorous checks in place as before.
The criteria for wishing to foster children remains the same – you need to have time and space in your life and, above all, the desire to make a difference to the lives of young people – however, what has changed is the speed at which we are able to process applications.
Fast track assessment is not about cutting corners. It is about matching children with foster families faster so you can start making a difference sooner.
Interested? Read on to find out more.
Why was it developed?
The new fast track assessment process has been developed in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Many families have been affected by loss of work and income due to the pandemic. Many more are expected to be affected by the forecast economic downturn. Some may be actively considering fostering as a rewarding alternative to seeking work in an increasingly tough jobs market.
If you are one of them, fast-track assessment is great news.
Who is suitable for fast-tracking?
Fast track has been designed for people who have lots of time each week to dedicate to the assessment process. If you have been furloughed or lost your job due to the pandemic, if you are retired or if you were already contemplating an alternative to the rat race, this could be the ideal solution.
How fostering assessments work
Fostering assessments are designed to build up a detailed picture of your family life, past and present. They draw out your existing skills and teach you new skills and strategies, ready to welcome a child or young person into your home. At the end of the assessment period, you will be invited to an independent fostering panel so your assessment can be approved.
What’s different about fast-tracking?
With fast-tracking, you will follow the same rigorous assessment process as a conventional fostering application, however each stage is speeded up. New, streamlined processes are in place for:
You will need to make yourself available to attend sessions and commit to completing all paperwork in a timely fashion.
Fast-tracking makes extensive use of online and virtual platforms, which not only makes things faster but gives you more flexibility to join assessment sessions and training at times that suit you. Most contact and training sessions will be online, although you will have a home visit from one of our agency managers before your panel date. This is because getting to know you in person and visiting your home and family is really important to us. Such face-to-face contact will also help you feel part of our fostering family
At the start of the fast-tracking process, we will mutually commit to working together to gather all of the information needed for the fostering assessment as quickly and efficiently as possible. Throughout the process, we will be available to offer support and advice whenever you need it.
"Our assessing Social Worker made us feel right at ease. In the end, we found the process quite therapeutic and we were at panel before we knew it"! Carol, Foster Carer.
The fast track application process will be explained to you in detail when you enquire, but here are some of the key milestones in the process:
We will explain the fast track process in brief.
Initial visit/Virtual Initial visit
You will be offered the option to apply for fast-tracking within 24 hours
We will contact you to confirm that you agree to the fast track timelines. Your fast track assessor will be appointed.
This will start as soon as your assessor is appointed. The assessment process will include references, DBS and medical checks.
Provisional panel date booked
This will be booked for 8 weeks after the start of your application.
You will be visited by a member of our local fostering agency will share details about your application and identify any additional training needs.
Allocation of local agency buddy
Where appropriate we will buddy you up with one of our foster carers.
Virtual attendance at panel
This will normally take place around two months after your assessment started.
You will hear the outcome of your application within 3 to 5 days of your panel appearance.
Why should I consider fostering?
Fostering offers the opportunity to make a real difference to the lives of children and young people. You will be paid for your time, along with receiving many other valuable benefits and perks. As a foster carer, you will work from home, and be able to achieve a good work/life balance. There will be challenges, of course, but with the National Fostering Group you will benefit from an extensive network of support and the chance to network with other carers facing similar issues.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long will it take for me to become a foster carer if I am on the fast track?
Once we have received your formal application to foster, we will aim to have a date to appear before our independent fostering panel within eight weeks of the date of your application.
That means you could have a child placed with you just over two months after you complete your application form.
What do I need to do to be considered for the fast track process?
If you are interested in being considered for fast-tracking, contact us to let us know click here. (Or, if you just want to discuss it initially, that’s fine too).
We can talk you through the application process from start to finish.
When you decide you want to go ahead, we will arrange to meet with you and your immediate family via video link. This ‘initial visit’, albeit online, is an opportunity for us to find out about your home, family life and circumstances. It gives you and your family the chance to meet us virtually and ask any questions. We will be able to discuss the fast track process in detail and decide, between us, if this suits your needs and circumstances. It’s fine if you decide at this point that the normal application process works better for you.
If you do decide the fast track process is right for you, then as soon as you submit your application form, we will work with you to create a timetable for your application. You will be kept fully informed of everything that needs to be completed at each stage and how you can help to support the process, right up until the date of your panel.
Ready to proceed? Contact us to arrange a discussion about your fast track application to becoming a foster carer.